New Jersey goalie Martin Brodeur could be handicapped
by the NHL's new rules.
RELAUNCHING THE GAME
The NHL adopts several rule changes in
an effort to improve the game
CBC Sports Online | Last updated July 22,
Not content with just getting the economics
of the game right, the National Hockey League is also committed
to improving the on-ice product.
On the same day it ratified the new collective bargaining agreement,
the league announced a series of new rules that will be implemented
during the 2005-06 NHL season.
Colin Campbell, the league's director of hockey operations and executive
vice-president, met with the NHL's competition committee and prepared
a list of potential rule changes.
Once the list was compiled, the NHL board of governors' met and
voted on the committee's recommendations.
Here's what they decided:
2. Goalie equipment
3. Two-line passes | Diagram
4. Tag-up offsides | Diagram
5. Moving the nets | Diagram
6. Puckhandling by goalies | Diagram
7. 3-on-3 overtime
8. No-touch icing
9. Expanded playoff format
SHOOTOUTS - ADOPTED
The issue: Going to a three-player
shootout if teams are still tied after five minutes of overtime.
Reasons for: It would add tension and excitement
to the game, as ties would become a thing of the past (although, teams
would be awarded a point for a shootout loss). The league and players
could earn some of the fans' trust back after the lockout because
most fans want to see shootouts. Shootouts also mean more goals, which
could also draw more casual hockey fans to the game.
Reasons against: Critics of shootouts say it would
be a statistical nightmare. Making historical comparisons between
players from different eras would be more difficult, as you would
need another statistical category for shootout goals and shootout
saves. Hockey purists say shootouts are a cheap gimmick, and that
games should be won or lost the old-fashioned way.
What they decided: Games will go to a three-player
shootout after five minutes of 4-on-4 overtime. Each team takes three
shots and the team with the most goals after those six shots is the
winner. If the score remains tied, the shootout will proceed to a
"sudden death" format.
GOALIE EQUIPMENT - ADOPTED
The issue: Reducing the size of a goalie's pads, blocker and catching gloves.
Reasons for: In 1989, a goalie's leg pad limit was
increased to 12 inches from 10. Because of the increase in size of
their equipment, goalies take up more of the net than ever before.
Critics say smaller goalie equipment will give players more of the
net to shoot at and lead to more goals.
Reasons against: Goalies argue smaller padding and equipment makes them human targets and will lead to more injuries.
What they decided: The dimensions of goaltender equipment
will be reduced by approximately 11 per cent. In addition to reducing
the width of pads to 11 inches, the blocking glove, upper-body protector,
pants and jersey also will be reduced in size.
TWO-LINE PASSES - ADOPTED
The issue: Legalizing two-line
Reasons for: By legalizing two-line passes, the game
will open up (more breakaways) and lead to more scoring chances by
rewarding teams that favour speed and skill.
Reasons against: Those who have played in Europe,
where there is no red-line, say the two-line pass actually leads to
more defensive hockey. With no red-line, teams are less likely to
gamble and forecheck, and instead stack players in the neutral zone
in order to shut down passing lanes.
What they decided: Passes from behind the defensive
blue-line to the attacking blue-line are now legal. The centre red-line
will be ignored for purposes of the two-line pass, but will still
be used to making icing calls.
TAG-UP OFFSIDES - ADOPTED
The issue: Reinstating the
tag-up offside rule (abandoned by the NHL in 1996) and eliminating
the automatic offside rule currently in use.
Reasons for: Fewer stoppages in play. Under the tag-up
rule, players who were offside had an opportunity to recover and avoid
a whistle. They simply had to clear the offensive zone - by "tagging
up" in the neutral zone - before crossing back over the blue-line.
Reasons against: The league originally ditched the tag-up rule because it believed it led to more shoot-ins and that it discouraged players from carrying the puck over the blue-line. Under the tag-up rule, players can dump the puck in every time - even if a teammate is offside.
What they decided: Adoption of the tag-up rule, permitting
play to continue if offensive players who preceded the puck into the
zone return to the blue-line and "tag up".
MOVING THE NETS - ADOPTED
The issue: Moving the nets
closer to the end-boards.
Reasons for: Reducing the space behind the nets means
more space in front, which could mean more scoring chances.
Reasons against: Offensive players will have less
space to manoeuvre behind the nets.
What they decided: The goal-lines will be positioned
11 feet from the end-boards, (two feet closer to the boards). Also,
the neutral zones will be reduced by four feet.
PUCKHANDLING BY GOALIES
The issue: Barring goalies from handling the puck behind the goal-line to curb their influence in the defensive zone.
Reasons for: By restricting the goalies from playing
the puck, the belief is that the game will open up the game by making
it easier for forecheckers to win possession.
Reasons against: Defencemen will be at greater physical risk along the end boards, as they'll have to fight for the puck against opposing forecheckers without the help of their goalie. It's also believed this rule change will lead to more of a dump-and-chase game, which, some say, is not the most entertaining brand of hockey.
What they decided: Goaltenders will still be able
to play the puck behind the goal-line, but only in a trapezoid-shaped
area defined by lines that begin six feet from either goal post and
extend diagonally to points 28 feet apart at the endboards.
3-ON-3 OVERTIME - REJECTED
The issue: Adding a three-minute, 3-on-3 overtime period if teams remain tied following the current five-minute OT.
Reasons for: The 4-on-4 overtime period currently
in use makes for some exciting hockey. Adding a 3-on-3 extra period
will only add to the excitement.
Reasons against: Games are already long enough. Adding another 3-on-3 overtime on top of three full periods and a five-minute overtime period is asking too much of players. After 65 minutes of hockey, you're going to have some tired and exhausted players on the ice, increasing the potential for injuries.
What they decided: The teams will go straight to
a shootout if the score is tied after the 4-on-4 overtime period currently
NO-TOUCH ICING - REJECTED
The issue: Automatically blowing the whistle for icing once the puck crosses the goal-line.
Reasons for: Fewer injuries. Defencemen are hurt after being nailed into the boards by opposing players while chasing down the puck.
Reasons against: It eliminates the excitement of a defenceman making a mad dash down the ice while fighting off an opposing player to win possession of the puck. It will also lead to more stoppages in play and eliminates potential scoring chances.
What they decided: The league will keep touch icing.
EXPANDED PLAYOFF FORMAT
The issue: The addition of a best-of-three preliminary round and raising the total number of teams involved to 2o. Sixteen teams currently qualify for the playoffs, which is comprised of four best-of-seven series.
Reasons for: An expanded format would mean more revenue and give weaker teams a better chance of reaching the post-season.
Reasons against: Some argue that a larger pool of
playoff teams where 20 of 30 teams qualify would result in a diluted
post-season and render the regular season all but meaningless. After
a lengthy lockout and with NHL players set to compete at the 2006
Torino Olympics, the last thing the league needs to do is make the
What they decided: The NHL will keep a 16-team playoff